Goethe once stated, “Writing stories is a way to get rid of the burden of the past, writing history liberates us from history”. Much can be gained from the “lost” pages of our political history if we hope to move beyond our past predicaments and future fears. Rishi Thakur’s response to the FRUS revelations about Forbes Burnham’s active role in constructing the dictatorship as a fantasy and fable ignores the possibility that there are still many mysteries associated with Guyana politics (11/18/21). Our leaders of all stripes and hues have their political demons, the skeletons of which have yet to be discovered. Burnham’s denial of CIA involvement during his tenure was exposed years after his death through revelations from previously classified British and American documents, despite previous denials to the contrary. There is nothing surreal about that. Nothing in what I have written has been suggested to “give Uncle Sam a free ride” or directly to contradict the excellent studies examining US intervention in Guyana politics by David Rabe and Colin Palmer. Indeed, US involvement in Guyana was number one on the list of direct interventions in the 1960s, as were allegations of Cuban and Russian involvement.
Since the “28 years” undoubtedly represent a chapter in our life, so were the following 23 years. But it is not a fable or a fantasy to reflect deeply on the destruction inflicted on this young nation by outside forces acting in collaboration with local forces domestically. The 28-year denial of democracy and the murders of Walter Rodney, Father Darke, Vincent Teekah and others are not a legendary story. The lesson, however, is that the US (and now China!) Is in the foreseeable future. This is our geopolitical reality and our destiny. Burnham’s political tenure demonstrated little Guyana’s ability to play the game of chess, which enabled the Machiavellian chess master to fight the superpower, in some cases with success. That should bring comfort to Thakur. Thakur asked a relevant question when he asked if we have it in us to disavow the demonization of the other. We definitely do, and it is up to the inventive adults in the room to lead the way forward. He said it best when, as a staunch defender of the APNU, when asked about the “1973 ballot box murders” he warned that “we need the true story of what happened in Guyana for the next generation” (SN, 10 -14-11). Perhaps a good place to start is to condemn the APNU’s attempt to hold the country hostage after the 2020 elections. Public recognition of this perfidious moment will set the historical record right for younger people in posterity. History should never be buried so that it does not become a burden on our memories.